Curators Corner

Efie Gallery presents Solace in Soil, a duo exhibition between  renowned Emirati artist Dr. Mohamed Yousif and Kenyan  Sculptor Maggie Otieno

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Efie Gallery is honoured to announce ‘Solace in Soil’, a duo exhibition between renowned  Emirati artist Dr. Mohamed Yousif (b. 1953) and Kenyan sculptor Maggie Otieno (b.1974),  curated by Emirati curator Shamma Al Mheiri

Opening 31st May, this exhibition celebrates the grounded connections between the practices of  the two artists and the cross-cultural exchange between the Middle East and Africa. 

Dr Mohamed Yousif’s work is a distillation of his engagement with and contemplation of the  natural environment, where he explores notions of motion and stillness through sculpture. His  work has been extensively collected by the Sharjah Art Foundation and featured in numerous  exhibitions, highlights of which include two inclusions in The National Pavilion of the UAE at the  Venice Biennial (2015, 2017); Language of the Desert at the Kunstmuseum (Bonn, Germany,  2005), the Bangladesh Biennial (First Golden Prize, 2004) and The 5th New Delhi Biennial,  India (1982).

Left: Dr. Mohamed Yousif Right: Maggie Otieno Image courtesy of Efie Gallery

Maggie Otieno’s work is centered around abstract long figures comprised of distressed railway  sleepers, engaged in silent conversations amongst themselves and their encompassing  environment. The railway sleeper wood Otieno uses are over 150 years old and journeyed from  the forests of India to Kenya to lay the ‘iron snake’ railway line in 1896, carrying within their  grain the stories of travellers, labourers and communities. Through her deft manipulation of form  and texture, she endeavors to imbue her sculptures with a sense of temporal continuity,  affording them a palpable resonance with the viewer’s own lived experiences. 

This exhibition fosters a symbiotic exchange between the artists and their artistic practices,  intimately linked to their earthy foundations, enabling their work to converse and showcase the  interconnectedness between the regions. 

Shamma Al Mheiri, curator of the exhibition at Efie Gallery, says: “Solace in Soil is an  exploration of materiality and a sculptor’s connection with the earth. Presented together for the  first time, Maggie Otieno and Dr. Mohamed Yousif share leitmotifs of expressing generational  sentiments and experiences through tangible expressions. Perhaps distinct in visual identities,  Otieno and Dr. Yousif manifest connections deeper than the aesthetic portrayals in a state of  continual solace.” Kwame Mintah, director of Efie Gallery, says: “Since the genesis of Efie Gallery we continuosly strive to be a cross-cultural bridge between Africa and the Middle East, highlighting not only the  beauty and creativity of the two regions but their symbiosis. ‘Solace in Soil’ captures our mission  at its core. We are most honoured to have had the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Mohamed Yousif, Maggie Otieno and Shamma Al Mheiri to realise this exhibition.”

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